Competitive Intelligence? What’s competitive intelligence? According to Wikipedia, “Competitive intelligence (CI) is the action of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors and any aspect of the environment needed to support executives and managers in making strategic decisions for an organization.“
For the day to day, it means understanding what your competitors, direct and indirect are doing, how big their war chest is, whom they’re hiring, and then trying to figure out how you can outcompete them based on your realities. Competitive intelligence is an ongoing process. It is about accumulating relevant knowledge that your entire executive team can implement into the overall company strategy.
What is at stake, some may ask. Everything, we negotiate every day, knowingly or not. Be it about the added sugar in your coffee, whether you can borrow a buck from your friends, or if someone can lend you a pen. When it comes to business, you negotiate contracts, term sheets, employment agreements.
Back in 2018 I was presenting to the Chief Marketing Officer of Fujitsu on my human centered design innovation process. It worked great for digital products and MVPs but somehow it wasn’t landing. At about the halfway point of the presentation, the CMO asked a straightforward question. “How do I create the next iPhone?” I had no idea. What happened next was a series of questions that I believe led me to unearth at least a portion of Apple’s product innovation guidelines. If I’m right let me know, if I’m wrong, also let me know.
As a founder, you should be keeping track of milestones, performance, sales and everything else that’s going on with your company, but you’re busy, being pulled in twenty different ways, you have to fundraise, you’re running all sales and marketing, it’s overwhelming. How can you make sure the company is healthy aside from just your MAUs, DAUs, retention, and sales going up. How can you benchmark your startup’s operating performance?
The Lean Startup model seems to be present everywhere you turn these days. As with any methodology that seeks to improve the success rate of young companies, it is welcome, and especially true when the new enterprise is needed more than ever to add kindling to the economic fire. However, after reading the book, I’m going to give you all this Lean Startup Book Review in a TL;DR. Eric Ries is largely selling 336 pages of obvious, while simultaneously making assumptions that would be effective in only a handful of startups, and surely not in an across-the-board situation as advertised.
As with any management ideology, there is of course both the good and the bad, so how’s about we take a quick look-see.
What can I say, I love trying out new apps, and I especially enjoy trying out new love location-based service (LBS) apps – except it is, when they get it completely and horribly wrong.
There’s little doubt that in the coming years location based services and augmented reality will shape the way we interact with our surroundings, search for products, and share information, and apparently a lot of other people think the same, which is why you tend to hear more and more these days about what’s hopping in LBS on your everyday tech blogs and in even more traditional media, i.e. the WSJ.
But this post isn’t about how great LBS is, it’s about how horrible some people make LBS. Forget Key Success Factors, let’s talk about Key Failure Factors or KFF’s.
What I mean by this is that mobile devices function in such a way that you have a need and then you use that device to fulfill that need. In the example of a photo, you see something cool, you snap that photo, and that need is fulfilled.
A few applications do an excellent job of fulfilling these needs, these applications are simple, they’re intuitive, and sometimes they can even even boas to be fun, and are growing at the rate of the plague in medieval europe. Unfortunately there’s only a handful of these at best, and the rest of the so-called LBS apps fall short of usability, they are in fact – painful – to use.
One such monstrosity is Whrrl, when started by Amazon veterans in ’07 was a forward thinking product indeed, but one that succumbed to what can only be explained as horrible execution. Why? Well it doesn’t make sense. It’s convoluted, it’s complex, it utilizes it’s own jargon that any new user has to learn, and best (or worst) of all, it has – get this – tutorials. Yes, tutorials.
Any phone application, or for that matter website that needs a “tutorial” is inherently flawed. Imagine – a google tutorial. You don’t need one because it’s just that simple to use. Remember web directories. They were fun to navigate weren’t they? And so now they’re done.
The user needs to “get” what’s going on from the moment they load the app / land on the page, if that user doesn’t “get” it within the first 15 seconds, chances or a repeat use / visit are slim to none. So ask yourselves objectively, if I were your regular tom dick or harry, how would I see this app. Would I get it?
If not, there may still be room to save the concept so fear not, here are a few simple ways to ensure that neither you, nor your product winds up as a jargon filled monstrosity understood only by the people who created it. :EXAMPLE:
The most important is. KISS – keep it simple, stupid, and the second is use design thinking, get everyone involved in the initial stages, but ensure there’s a goal and objective. Nothing worse than 40 cooks in the kitchen, and remember, the product should be understood by the technologically speaking lowest common denominator. In my case – my parents. If they get it. We’re good.